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#2008229 - 01/02/13 09:48 PM Achieving Coordination Between Left and Right Hands?
newbert Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/02/13
Posts: 340
Loc: Upstate New York, USA
After not playing piano for probably 45 years, I've decided to take it up again by working through David Sprunger's online course. I'm not very far along yet, so I'm just playing basic tunes at this point. Even at this early stage, a specific difficulty is becoming clear. That is -- I can usually learn to play either right or left hand --- but only one-hand-at-a-time. Even with the basic tunes at this early stage in the course, I find that I'm having significant difficulty in coordinating both hands together.

Are there specific exercises/drills to work on for coordinating the left and right hands?

Thanks!

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#2008233 - 01/02/13 09:56 PM Re: Achieving Coordination Between Left and Right Hands? [Re: newbert]
neildradford Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/10/11
Posts: 148
Loc: United Kingdom
I've only been learning to play for a year but the only way for me to do HT is to start off painstakingly slow (after doing HS). I'm not sure if there are specific exercises, so ill let the experts chime in on that one, but one thing I know, it does get easier after a while.

Sorry it's not much help, just my observations.

Neil.


Edited by neildradford (01/02/13 09:56 PM)
_________________________
Venables & Son Custom 133 Upright Acoustic Piano
Yamaha DGX-640 Digital Piano
Started learning: October 2011
Started lessons: January 2012
YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/neildradford

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#2008245 - 01/02/13 10:19 PM Re: Achieving Coordination Between Left and Right Hands? [Re: newbert]
fizikisto Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 718
Loc: Hernando, MS
I remember it being incredibly hard when I first started, and then it wasn't. The skill comes with practicing. I like to make the analogy of driving a car with a manual transmission. If you learned to drive a stick you probably remember it was very frustrating at first. Listen for the pitch of the engine to change, check the RPM dial, when it hits the right range press the clutch in this far, move stick here, release clutch. Then you had to learn when to upshift, when to downshift, how to balance the car on a hill, etc... probably you stalled the car more than once when you were learning (I know I did smile. Then, one day you could just drive. playing the piano is an incredibly demanding task. You're reading the score and translating all kinds of information. It just takes your brain and nervous system time to learn how to do it.

Be patient, go slow, take it one measure at a time. It will become more natural.

Warm Regards
_________________________
Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800

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#2008258 - 01/02/13 10:48 PM Re: Achieving Coordination Between Left and Right Hands? [Re: newbert]
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1098
Loc: Southern California
I found offset scales to be a useful exercise. These are parallel scales with both hands, with half a beat separation. Have the right hand lead, then the left. At first even this much independence may seem difficult. My brain wanted both hands to play in unison, but with some practice I was able to do it. It is a small measure of hand independence, but it is a start.

If three note harmonies (full chords) seem daunting, single notes with the left hand or two notes with the left hand might be a way to simply the arrangement.
_________________________
my piano uploads

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#2008279 - 01/02/13 11:44 PM Re: Achieving Coordination Between Left and Right Hands? [Re: newbert]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
The time since you played is not relevant. What is relevant is what you are attempting to play. There are at least 50 or more method books to teach one piano. Unfortunately, online means nothing to me or probably body else because it is saying nothing about the music you are facing to learn. We are blind, if you don't tell us. I might suggest you go to a music store and look at the method books, and when you see one is like the music you are learning, you can come back and tell us what it is and we can help you.

Having said that opening statement. Let me say that for $10 in the USA and $20 in Canada you get a book 1 on how to play the piano. "Michael Aaron piano course Lessons Grade 1 is one of 50, but as I say they are all very similar. You have the distinct advantage of having played the piano 45 years ago. In fact, even if it was 99 years ago, you brain would remember how to hold your hands to play the piano. What happens today is the same as what happened 99 years ago. You must open page 1 of the piano book and you must look at the first note and say the note silently or outloud when you press or strike the key. This enables the brain to know what your finger is doing. Then you read the next note, say the note as you press it and keep going that until you either run out of notes or make a mistake. In case you don't remember, it is very, very, important to go very, very, slowly because your fingers are fast, but your brain, new or old, only has one speed when learning new things, that being s l o w l y . The thing you must do is play the first piece many, many, times, every day for many days and many weeks. Why do you say? Well, you want to make sure that your brain remembers the notes you are reading and the keys you are pressing. If you do this every day, slowly and accurately, when you reach the part of the book that has notes that you play with your right hand and notes that you play with your left hand, you will be very pleased that you brain does what you ask it, that is play both notes at the same time because you have followed the book flawlessly note by note and page by page, day after day without mistakes else you have to slow down if you make mistakes. It is that easy and that painless and joyfull. All you have to do is play from the little book and do it slowly and accurately and often.

Since you are a beginner, you only need worry about the music in the book and follow it carefully saying the note you are reading and playing the note. You brain will look after the rest of it. I will say again your music book will likely have 50 pages of beginner piano music. It will probably take 1, 2, or 3 or 4 or even 5 days of playing the first piece in the book to learn it. You must review the pieces you learn all the time. Don't just rush to learn a new piece, but make sure you can play the old pieces accurately and slowly. Don't be surprised if it takes you 6 months to learn the first book. It is a slow joyfull experience that all of us piano players take every day.

Your Welcome


Edited by Michael_99 (01/02/13 11:50 PM)

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#2008317 - 01/03/13 01:29 AM Re: Achieving Coordination Between Left and Right Hands? [Re: Michael_99]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 821
Loc: Finland
After you have learned the hands separately, you need to learn them together which is often a separate task depending on the difficulties. It's not about just playing what you did hands separately at the same time with boths hands. Very few people can really do that.

You can put the hands together by different methods, but I think the easiest is to select "cue" notes in each measure that you coordinate together. Like thinking "Here the left hand plays with 2 and the right with 3". This will help you get the whole thing together. Also the movements that work while playing hands separate may not work that well hands together so you may need to adjust. Do this one measure or short sections at the time, do not try to just play the whole thing from start to beginning.

With something really difficult I use a method where I just play the other hand and add the notes from the other hand gradually while repeating the section.

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#2008319 - 01/03/13 01:42 AM Re: Achieving Coordination Between Left and Right Hands? [Re: Michael_99]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 821
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: Michael_99



Since you are a beginner, you only need worry about the music in the book and follow it carefully saying the note you are reading and playing the note. You brain will look after the rest of it. I will say again your music book will likely have 50 pages of beginner piano music. It will probably take 1, 2, or 3 or 4 or even 5 days of playing the first piece in the book to learn it. You must review the pieces you learn all the time. Don't just rush to learn a new piece, but make sure you can play the old pieces accurately and slowly. Don't be surprised if it takes you 6 months to learn the first book. It is a slow joyfull experience that all of us piano players take every day.


I wish I had this type of determination but never did. I think this method requires a certain mindset. For me it seems more useful to just take what I can learn from a piece in a short time and move on. I learn faster and get to more interesting music sooner. What you desribe is "sequental learning". It works if you are set that way and it ensures that all the basics are learned properly. But if you are a more "global" learner, you do not benefit from this approach that much. Global learners learn things in a more chaotic way, but that can in the end be just as effective.

In general I do not believe there's any method of study that fits all and a good teacher should be able to take this into account.

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#2008403 - 01/03/13 08:14 AM Re: Achieving Coordination Between Left and Right Hands? [Re: newbert]
mabraman Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/12
Posts: 364
Loc: Valencia, Spain
The only way to do different things with hands together is...doing them once and again. For instance, play right hand while measuring tempo with the left, or try some exercise of you own invention not related to the piano.Tap different rythm patterns for both hands on a board or table...It's very difficult at the beginning, cause our brain needs training. Practice some specific exercises for the piano, then (I work on some of Czerny for beginners, doing coordination and sight readin at the same time). It works!
_________________________
Learning piano from scratch since September, 2012.
Kawai ES7.

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#2008448 - 01/03/13 09:51 AM Re: Achieving Coordination Between Left and Right Hands? [Re: newbert]
Plowboy Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2397
Loc: SoCal
Start S-L-O-W
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Gary

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#2008552 - 01/03/13 01:58 PM Re: Achieving Coordination Between Left and Right Hands? [Re: newbert]
SoundThumb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/28/10
Posts: 346
Loc: San Diego, CA
Wouldn't it be nice if there was an exercise we could do that would magically improve our hand independence. I suspect that playing anything that requires hand independence is the exercise. In other words, it just takes time and practice, there is no short cut.

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#2008670 - 01/03/13 06:14 PM Re: Achieving Coordination Between Left and Right Hands? [Re: newbert]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2458
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
The time since you last played is relatively unimportant. The time since you last started is more critical.

None of us can play as well hands together as we can hands separately. It is probably the inability to control hands separately at a reasonable degree of competence that makes many of us think we're worse at sight reading than we really are. I know this to be the case with me.

When I first start a piece (hard enough that I can't play it competently hands together) I sort out the difficulties. There are usually four types:

1) mechanical difficulties (e.g. stretches, weak finger trills, changing fingers on one key or passing the fifth under the fourth etc)

2) reading difficulties (too many accidentals or ledger lines, sudden key change from sharps to flats, busy or cluttered score etc)

3) playing-without-looking difficulties (simultaneous leaps in both hands and opposite directions)

4) distributing the notes between the hands to suit my style of playing and

5) co-ordinating the hands in polyphonic music, polyrhythms and syncopations.

For any of the above I usually start with hands separate practise. I normally continue practising hands separately until such time as I feel it's not adding to the learning process but I will certainly take each hand up to recital speed or beyond before I stop HS practise. I do both HS and HT practise each day, not exclusively one or the other.

Whenever I join hands it will always be slower than hands separately and it is generally the hardest part of learning new pieces.

I've been playing a year now since I returned to the piano, though I am by no means a beginner, and I start practising hands together on the same day as hands separately - a year ago I would have taken hands separately to a higher level before joining them - but still I go at about half the speed of hands separate practise.

There are no specific exercises to help joining hands together, other than practise playing hands together. It takes a long time to realise that we shouldn't consciously try to play faster but that we will eventually play faster, without consciously trying to, simply by dint of doing it.

Slow and steady practise may seem a long, slow process but you will eventually be playing just as fast as those that chase metronomes and deadlines BUT you will be clearer, less tense, less likely to be playing wrong notes and will actually SOUND faster than those fastards who crank it up to 208 bpm asap.

Even with fast pieces, like Chopin's Minute Waltz, constant slow practise increases recital speed.

The hardest thing to get to grips with is that conscious thought is required at first for every finger movement and the actual time taken for simple operations seems inordinate but as soon as the process becomes familiar and automatic, the speed sky-rockets without any further effort than stopping thinking! Trust in the process and your patience will be rewarded.

Welcome to the forum. Joining is probably the best thing you've done to boost your progress.
_________________________
Richard

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